Big Day Out: “Council’s Political Leverage Forced Perth Venue Change”

Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit has hit out at Perth’s Claremont council, saying its political leverage and negative media campaigns forced yesterday’s announcement of a last-minute venue change away from Claremont Showgrounds for the festival’s 2014 event.

Zammit told Music Feeds the move out of Claremont was prompted by ongoing animosity from the council and specifically its mayor, Jock Barker. “Jock Barker has led a campaign in media and with all political leverage at his disposal to force events like Big Day Out away from Claremont,” he said.

“He has made it clear publicly he didn’t want our event in HIS Town and done all possible within his control to block the event operating at its best,” said Zammit. “The best being what our audience expects and deserves.”

The February 2nd show, slated to take place at the Claremont Showgrounds, run by the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) of WA, will now instead be held at Arena Joondalup. But Mayor Barker has denied any claims that the council was involved in moving the event, saying the decision was made for purely economic reasons.

“To suggest the council — who have had no negotiations on this whatsoever at this point in time — is involved, is fatuous to say the least,” said the mayor. “The RAS charges far more than any other venue in Australia and, despite what the promotor says, the ticket sales are down,” said Barker. “So it’s a matter of money, that’s why they’ve moved. It’s got nothing to do with us.”

Zammit said money was not a factor in the decision to move. “The cost of moving our event far outweighs the difference in venue costs. We are moving to ensure our audience gets the best show possible.”

Mayor Barker has made clear he’s not a fan of the Big Day Out or Soundwave festivals, both held at Claremont and now linked by a common promoter, AJ Maddah. “Am I unhappy to see them go? Not at all,” said Barker.

BDO have experienced problems with the Town of Claremont before, most recently in the council’s reported attempt to implore the State Government to enforce sound level restrictions and to block BDO’s application to extend their curfew to 11:00pm.

“The State Government has always been supportive of Big Day Out. Claremont has used their political leverage to force the State Government to enforce noise restrictions and enforced costs for additional noise monitoring,” said Zammit. “We do not hold the State Government to account for this.”

Mr Barker confirmed the council had tried to enforce sound limits and stop the time extensions because residents had previously complained about the noise. “If you’re a young mum living in that area, you would be battling to get your children to sleep,” he said.

It seems both Adam Zammit and Mayor Barker do agree on at least one thing, the new Arena Joondalup venue is a better option. Barker believes the venue is a lot safer for festival goers, while Zammit says it offers “a more open and accessible site, with more grass and less impediment to crowd movement.”

As for future Big Day Out festivals returning to Claremont, Zammit says the chances are slim. “A combination of pigs taking flight and Hell experiencing severe climate change would still not result in Big Day Out returning to Claremont while [it] is run by Jock Barker and his team.”

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